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EMERGING MARKETS-Recession signals keep most EM currencies subdued, lira gains

Sruthi Shankar

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* China stocks end lower despite stimulus

* Turkey's lira recovers from 2-month low

* Saudi stocks lower as second batch joins MSCI index

Aug 28 (Reuters) - Fresh signals from the U.S. bond market about a possible recession on Wednesday kept emerging market investors on edge, with Chinese stocks failing to get a boost from stimulus measures unveiled to offset the impact of U.S. trade pressures.

Beijing shares closed about 0.3% lower even as the government took steps on Tuesday to boost consumption, including possible removal of restrictions on auto purchases.

The MSCI's index for EM stocks was largely flat, with stock markets in India, Turkey and South Africa all in the red.

A downbeat mood hit risk assets after a key part of the U.S. yield curve, a closely watched recession indicator, inverted further as a deepening U.S.-China trade row raised fears of a global slowdown.

China's offshore yuan steadied at 7.1693 per dollar after a 10-day losing steak as the central bank set its official midpoint firmer than market expectations, seen as an attempt to slow the pace of depreciation.

"Calculating the amount of RMB depreciation needed to offset tariff-related price changes shows that it has been mostly reactive and defensive, and Beijing has not allowed the RMB to weaken more than justified by tariffs - either implemented or threatened," Societe Generale's Wei Yao wrote in a note.

"The USD-RMB would 'need' to rise to 7.26 on 1 October and to 7.51 on 15 December to offset the tariffs currently planned."

Among other currencies, the Turkish lira gained 0.4%, recovering from a two-month low as latest data showed the country's economic confidence index rose to 87.1 points in August, a jump of 7.9% from a month earlier.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin, who spoke to President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, said both countries had agreed steps to tackle militants in northwest Syria and "normalize" the situation there after a Syrian army offensive encircled rebel fighters and a Turkish military post.

However, the gains in the lira were limited as oil prices rose, and currencies of other net oil importers including the Indian rupee and the Indonesian rupiah weakened.

South Africa's rand, among the worst performing emerging currencies this quarter amid worries over domestic growth and its fiscal budget, was flat.

The South African government may be forced to inject more money into state power firm Eskom by the end of March next year, should the struggling utility fail to meet its borrowing plan, according to a National Treasury presentation.

The Saudi stock index dropped over 0.5% after a second batch of Saudi shares was added to the MSCI emerging markets index following its first inclusion in May.

The inclusion of Saudi stocks in the MSCI and FTSE indexes has attracted billions of dollars from foreign investors, who have been net buyers every month this year, sending the Saudi index up nearly 20% at its peak in May.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2019, see http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2019, see https://tmsnrt.rs/2OusNdX

For TOP NEWS across emerging markets

For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see

For TURKISH market report, see

For RUSSIAN market report, see (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)